Florida Credit Union has added two new members to its commercial lending team who bring a wealth of experience.
Jane Harris and Kent Jones have strong local ties that help them provide business borrowers the benefits of a member-owned financial institution.
Harris, the Vice President of Commercial Services, sees herself as an advocate for clients.
“I am their advocate with the decision-makers on our local loan committee. Unlike other banks that may have multiple levels required for loan approval, with those decision-makers located outside of our local market, Florida Credit Union’s loan committee resides right here in North Central Florida,” Harris said.
Before coming to Florida Credit Union, Harris worked for a bank that served both Florida and Georgia.
“With a smaller environment, we are able to give a more personal touch, stronger customer service, and more flexibility in lending,” Harris said.
Florida Credit Union, founded in 1954 to save its members money, carries its member orientation over to its commercial clients, she said.
“We’re able to focus more on our members because we are directly accountable to our members, unlike a bank, which is directly accountable to its shareholders,” Harris said.
Harris graduated from the University of Florida with a major in economics, and she has been a member of the Gainesville community since 1984, and her family has ties to the area for generations.
She serves as an ambassador for the Builders Association of North Central Florida, as an advisory board member for the F.W. Buchholz Academies of Finance and Entrepreneurship, and as a board member of the Children’s Home Society of Florida’s Gainesville Auxiliary.
Jones, a credit analyst, comes to Florida Credit Union after 15 years at a local bank that focused on commercial lending.
He has lived in Gainesville since 1984, and he is deeply entrenched in the community. He’s raised three daughters in Gainesville who are now attending UF, Santa Fe College and Gainesville High School. Kent volunteers for their sports teams, and he is active at Creekside Community Church.
“I know many of the business owners in town, which helps me analyze their loan applications,” he said.
Jones enjoys being at Florida Credit Union because it has a strong balance of consumer and commercial business.
“We have a broader mission than a community bank, which is almost exclusively focused on commercial accounts and commercial loans,” he said.
Although Florida Credit Union emphasizes consumer lending, it has made commercial loans since the mid-2000s, Jones noted.
“There are many good bankers in town, but very few reach the levels of exceptional,” said Mitch Glaeser, CEO of the Emory Group companies, which are clients of FCU.
Another Florida Credit Union client is Ken Castellani, owner of the local GEICO office in Gainesville. Castellani said Evan Pitts and the rest of the FCU team made the decision easy by offering prompt and professional service.
“The fact that it’s a credit union gives it a more personal touch,” Castellani said. “I would definitely recommend using them in the future.”
The hiring of Harris and Jones reflects the credit union’s commitment to commercial lending.
“We have a long-term commitment to diversify what we do into the commercial realm,” Jones said.
Florida Credit Union can finance all types of commercial projects up to $15 million in-house, and it partners with other credit unions to combine financing for larger projects.
The credit union also provides a full suite of treasury management services customized to meet the needs of any size business.